• Time to Use the Remedy Provided by the Constitution?

    We have now had three-quarters of a year in which to form a judgment of Donald Trump’s fitness to hold office.  That judgment cannot help but be adverse – and the only remaining question is, how much more damage will he be allowed to do?

    The judgment as to his unfitness can hardly be doubted – and it is not ours alone.  Eminent psychologists – who have focused specifically on what they have seen of the President’s mental frailties and personality traits – are agreed that he exhibits a range of disturbing conditions.

    In a collection called “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” edited by Bandy X. Lee, a psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine, contributors find Trump to be cognitively impaired, a sociopath, a malignant narcissist, and a hypomanic suffering from delusional disorder.

    He is, they say, a fantasist, unable to tell the difference between the world as it really is and how he wants or imagines it to be.  The layman will recognise the truth of this in his compulsion to assert that what he is or does is the biggest or best, even when the facts are clearly against him (as in the case of the size of the crowds that turned out for his inauguration or as to whether or not he won the popular vote in the 2016 election).

    The psychologists point to another worrying characteristic – the irrational rage he shows when his fantasy is challenged or contradicted.  His fantasising combines at this point with his narcissism – his insistence that he must always be right, and recognised and admired for being so.  The psychoanalysts conclude that these deficiencies mean that he “will lack the judgment to respond rationally.”

    We have again seen ample evidence of these aspects of his personality.  We saw it in his handling of the Charlottesville episode, when he could not bring himself to correct his initial error in failing to condemn white supremacists – and again in his over-the-top response to the protests about police brutality against young black men, carried out by sportsmen who kneel rather than stand during the national anthem.  What is remarkable about these instances is his lack of self-knowledge – his insensitivity to the impressions that his actions and utterances inevitably create, even among his own supporters as well as the population as a whole.

    Such failures to comprehend the consequences of what he does or says, such blithe self-confidence that he can always carry the day with another couple of tweets or a hastily arranged rally, are at odds with the calm and rational thought processes that are surely needed when the chips are really down.

    His inability to retain the loyalty of his staff, even in the case of his longest serving colleagues and most senior appointments, and his notable failure to build the kind of consensus, even among his own party, needed to carry through a legislative programme in a democracy, both deliver a worrying message about how isolated he is, how difficult he finds it to relate in ordinary human terms to those whose cooperation he needs – in other words, how neatly he matches the definition of a sociopath.

    There can surely be nothing that more pointedly (and sadly) demonstrates his lack of judgment in human relations than his response to the natural disaster in Puerto Rico.  How could it have seemed appropriate for a US President, visiting the victims of that disaster on American territory, to demonstrate his concern (when he wasn’t lambasting local administrators or bemoaning the cost of aid to his budget or belittling the number of fatalities suffered), by lobbing into the crowd assembled to meet him a couple of dozen paper towels as an indication of the “aid” provided by his administration.  He seemed to have had no idea of how contemptuous that seemed to be of the people of Puerto Rico and their tribulations.

    Here, it seems, is a “world leader” who is driven, not by rationality and careful analysis, but by phobias of various kinds.  He “hates” the White House and cannot bear to be there.  He resents the thought that credit might for any reason be given to his predecessor, so “Obamacare” must go.  He cannot bear criticism, so the purveyors of “fake news” must be threatened with being stripped of their licences to publish.

    The dangers that a sociopathic personality can bring – in terms of deepening divisions and exacerbating tensions – to the integrity and safety of a society that is often at risk of fragmenting hardly need stating.  And that is to say nothing of the international arena.

    He is a President who seems happier making enemies rather than friends.  His repeated intemperate tweets about North Korea, and the insults delivered as well to countries like Iran in his speech to the United Nations, are hardly likely to cool heads and temperatures.  And he seems to glory in the possibility of using the nuclear arsenal he is so keen to build up.  He places us all at risk.

    The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution allows a President to be removed if he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.  Are we not now at the point that the drafters of the Amendment had foreseen?

    Bryan Gould

    12 October 2017



  1. Patricia says: October 14, 2017 at 12:35 amReply

    I now agree with you Bryan. I had hoped he would be a different President from what America has had before but unfortunately he is not. It would not matter two hoots what sort of a president America had. After all many Countries have nutters as a President but, and it is a big BUT, America has the biggest nuclear arsenal in the World and that is the only reason why the World has an interest. But can we blame just one person? Who is behind him? Who is calling the shots? I don’t think even, as you suggest, he is removed anything would alter. The threats would just be more polite. The world can only only hope that somehow America will see the light but I don’t think that will happen. Violence is institutionalised in that country.

  2. Bryan Gould says: October 15, 2017 at 11:06 pmReply

    Thanks Patricia – yes, the Americans have to learn a great deal about restraint.

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